Beyond Regionalism: The Politics of the Transboundary Haze Pollution in Southeast Asia

Ahmad Rizky M Umar(1*)

(1) the University of Queensland
(*) Corresponding Author


This article reviews two influential books by two Southeast Asian scholars that discuss the politics of transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia. In two excellent works addressing the transboundary haze pollution problem in the region, Paruedee Nguitragool and Helena Varkkey put forward two approaches to understand the failure to address transboundary haze pollution in the region with their own merits and limitations. On the one hand, Paruedee Nguitragool argues that the persistence of the transboundary haze pollution is linked to the regional dynamics in ASEAN and the ratification of the ASEAN Agreement on the Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP). On the other hand, Helena Varkkey points out a larger political-economic context that shapes the problem regionally, which relates to the palm oil plantation problem. I argue that, while both works have provided essential insights into the transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia, there are still spaces to discuss larger contexts underpinning the problem. I identify three issues that could be discussed in future research on the transboundary haze pollution, namely (1) the normative issue of protection and human rights to a safe, clean, and sustainable environment, (2) the local agency and dynamics in the forest fires and national haze problem, and (3) the nexus between transboundary haze pollution and regional climate change adaptations.


Transboundary Haze Pollution; Southeast Asia; Regionalism; Multi-Level Governance; Patronage; Future Research Programme

Full Text:





Nguitragool, P. (2010). Environmental Cooperation in Southeast Asia: ASEAN's Regime for Trans-boundary Haze Pollution. Abingdon and New York: Routledge.

Varkkey, H. (2016). The Haze Problem in Southeast Asia: Palm Oil and Patronage. New York: Routledge.

Linklater, A. (2011). The problem of harm in world politics: Theoretical investigations. Cambridge University Press.


Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Secretariat. (2002). ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution. Retrieved from:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Secretariat. (2012). ASEAN Human Rights Declaration. Retrieved from:

Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Secretariat. (2015). ASEAN 2025: Forging Ahead Together. Retrieved from:


Nurhidayah, L. (2014). Transboundary haze pollution in the ASEAN region: an assessment of the adquacy of the legal and policy framework in Indonesia (PhD Thesis, Macquarie University). Retrieved from:

Dudhraj, A. (2020). Understanding the Environmental Implications of Belt and Road Initiative Projects: A Focus on Southeast Asia (PhD Dissertation, Flinders University, College of Business, Government and Law).

Journal Article (retrieved online, with DOI)

Aggarwal, V.K., & Chow, J.T. (2010). The perils of consensus: how ASEAN's meta-regime undermines economic and environmental cooperation. Review of International Political Economy, 17(2), 262-290. doi: 10.1080/09692290903192962

Ansori, S. (2019). The Fingertips of Government: Forest Fires and the Shifting Allegiance of Indonesia's State Officials. Indonesia, 108, 41-64. doi: 10.1353/ind.2019.0012

Ansori, S. (2021). The Politics of Forest Fires in Southeast Asia. Contemporary Southeast Asia: A Journal of International & Strategic Affairs, 43(1), 179-202. doi: 10.1355/cs43-lp

Dauvergne, P. (1998). The Political Economy of Indonesia’s 1997 Haze Fires. Australian Journal of International Affairs, 52 (1), 13-17. doi: 10.1080/10357719808445234.

Hughes, A.C. (2019). Understanding and minimizing environmental impacts of the Belt and Road Initiative. Conservation Biology, 33(4), 883-894. doi: 10.1111/cobi.13317

Hurley, A. & Lee, T. (2020). Delayed ratification in environmental regimes: Indonesia’s ratification of the ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution. The Pacific Review, 1-30. doi: 10.1080/09512748.2020.1801816

Jones, D.S. (2006). ASEAN and transboundary haze pollution in Southeast Asia. Asia Europe Journal, 4(3), 431-446. doi 10.1007/s10308-006-0067-1

Jones, L. (2010). ASEAN's unchanged melody? The theory and practice of ‘non-interference’in Southeast Asia. The Pacific Review, 23(4), 479-502. doi: 10.1080/09512748.2010.495996

Levy, M.A., Young, O.R., & Zürn, M. (1995). The study of international regimes. European journal of international relations, 1(3), 267-330. doi: 10.1177%2F1354066195001003001

Scott, J. (1972). Patron-client politics and political change in Southeast Asia. American Political Science Review, 66(1), 91-113. doi: 10.2307/1959280.

Journal Article (retrieved online, without DOI or page numbers)

Heilmann, D. (2015). After Indonesia's ratification: The ASEAN agreement on transboundary haze pollution and its effectiveness as a regional environmental governance tool. Journal of Current Southeast Asian Affairs, 34(3), 95-121.

Nurhidayah, L., & Alam, S. (2020). The forest and its biodiversity: assessing the adequacy of biodiversity protection laws in Indonesia. Asia Pacific Journal of Environmental Law, 23(2), 178-201.

Varkkey, H.M., 2020. Addressing transboundary haze through Asean: Singapore’s normative constraints. Journal of International Studies, 7, 83-101.

Wicke, B., Sikkema, R., Dornburg, V., & Faaij, A. (2011). Exploring land use changes and the role of palm oil production in Indonesia and Malaysia. Land use policy, 28(1), 193-206.

Book Chapters

Potter, L. (2009). Oil palm and resistance in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. In D. Caouette & S. Turner (Eds.), Agrarian angst and rural resistance in contemporary Southeast Asia. Routledge.

Ramli, D. R. D., & Hashim, R. (2020). National Interest Versus Regional Interest: The Case of Transboundary Haze Pollution. In N. Kaur & M. Ahmad (Eds.), Charting a Sustainable Future of ASEAN in Business and Social Sciences. Springer.

Electronic Source

Dewayanti, A. (2020). COVID-19 feared to exacerbate Indonesia’s haze health crisis. East Asia Forum. Retrieved from


Article Metrics

Abstract views : 2390 | views : 926


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

View My Stats


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.